The History of the Idea of Allergy

“About 100 years ago, a young paediatrician understood that the function of the immune system should be rationalized not in terms of exemption of disease but in terms of change of reactivity. He coined a new word to represent such an idea: ‘allergy’: the first contact of the immune system with an antigen changes the reactivity of the individual; on the second and subsequent contacts, this change (or allergy) can induce a spectrum of responses from protective (literally, immune) to hypersensitivity ones. The idea was at first hardly understood by the scientific community because it undermined the essentially protective nature of the immune response as it was defined. Nevertheless, in the next years, the growing clinical evidence led to the acceptance of this new point of view, but not of the new word, at least not unconditionally. The original significance of the neologism ‘allergy’ became perverted and limited to describe hypersensitivity conditions. Perhaps because of the corruption of the term, today ‘allergy’ does not have a well delimited significance among health professionals. Furthermore, the word has long ago escaped from physicians and gone to the streets, where it is popularly used also as synonymous with antipathy and rejection. This vulgarization of the term ‘allergy’ has significantly increased its imprecision.

On June 25 in the same year, the French immunologist Nicolas Maurice Arthus published an eye-opening experiment: after the fourth subcutaneous injection of horse serum in rabbits, a local oedematous reaction occurred; after the fifth, it became purulent; and after the seventh gangrenous. In other words, an increased specific sensitivity followed repeated injections of a foreign protein that was primarily nontoxic. More importantly, Arthus recognized the relationship of the increased sensitivity with the anaphylaxis of Charles Richet, published the year before.”

European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Post-licensure safety surveillance for Prevenar 13(®) in France

“RESULTS: In 4 years and 4 months, 376 AEs, including 252 severe (67%), were recorded, 83 of which occurred following an injection of Prevenar 13(®) alone: 39 cutaneous AEs, 16 neurological AEs, four cases of collapse or shock, nine cases of fever, and one of thrombocytopenia. For the serious AEs, the outcome was favorable in 88% of cases and none of the 12 reported deaths were attributed to a side effect of vaccination. Fifty-nine cases of pneumococcal disease that suggest an ineffective vaccine were reported, but only 16 can be considered as a real failure of the vaccination.” 

Archives De Pediatrie 2017 

Adverse events associated with childhood vaccines other than pertussis and rubella. Summary of a report from the Institute of Medicine.

“The committee found that the evidence favored acceptance of a causal relation between diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and Guillain-Barré syndrome and brachial neuritis, between measles vaccine and anaphylaxis, between oral polio vaccine and Guillain-Barré syndrome, and between unconjugated Hib vaccine and susceptibility to Hib disease. The committee found that the evidence established causality between diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and anaphylaxis, between measles vaccine and death from measles vaccine-strain viral infection, between measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and thrombocytopenia and anaphylaxis, between oral polio vaccine and poliomyelitis and death from polio vaccine-strain viral infection, and between hepatitis B vaccine and anaphylaxis.”

JAMA 1994 

Evidence that Food Proteins in Vaccines Cause the Development of Food Allergies and Its Implications for Vaccine Policy

“Vaccines contain adjuvants such as pertussis toxins and aluminum compounds that also bias towards allergy. Adjuvants also increase the immunogenicity of injected food proteins. This combination of atopic children and food protein injection along with adjuvants, contributes to millions developing life- threatening food allergies.”

Journal of Developing Drugs


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